The Squaw Valley Adventure Center is comprised of the Ropes Course, Headwall Climbing Wall, and Skyjump Bungee Trampoline.
***NOTE: There are about a half dozen activities to enjoy in the adventure center, this review focuses on the Ropes Course.****
As you look across the parking lot from Squaw Village, you'll notice it off in the trees. From a distance, the Ropes Course looks a bit like a collection of tree houses the Swiss Family Robinson would have constructed. Upon closer inspection, you really get to see what you've signed up for --- unsteady bridges made of rope and purposely containing gaps in the planks across them, seven zip lines and multiple opportunities to do some vertical climbing.
A majority of the course is self guided, if you decide to do any of the vertical portions, you must then be belayed. While there are ropes course guides who do this, they are happy to train parents to belay their kids as well. (A belay holds the rope attached to the vertical climber and feeds enough rope for that person to maneuver in their climbing activity or be safely lowered to the ground.)
The first 30 minutes of each two-hour session is spent getting equipped --- not just with a helmet and harness, but the knowledge needed to get yourself through the activity safely. Participants are taught how to attach themselves to the line (its very simple and it's impossible to disconnect yourself until you are at the other end). The staff is fun and offers lots of encouragement. Participants are then urged to do the lower level of the course a couple of times before moving to the higher level. This is to assure your comfort and safety, as well as limit the possibility that a guide will have to climb up, disconnect you from the line and belay you to the ground because you've freaked out and can't make it. (Which sadly happened to me! ACK!!)
Kids as young as five can get out on this course. Because much of it is self guided, it is a good idea to make sure your child has a firm grip on turn taking. Only one participant can shoot across a zip line at a time and the next one must wait until that person has cleared the landing zone before they go. There are also only two people allowed on each waiting point at a time. It all seems a bit daunting and dangerous at first but participants give into the adrenaline rush quickly and everything seems to come together.
We took our almost 9 year old son out to this course. He is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum and he did beautifully! He took to this course like he was born on a zip line. In a blink, he was up in the highest areas of the course taking on those wobbly bridges and zipping over the heads of other participants like it was nothing. I was amazed watching him connect his own harness (you simply run your personal pulley up the end of the line and over a series of what looks like gears until it clicks --- there's only one way to do this and if you don't do it right, you don't connect at all so there's no way to mess it up). My son made it around the various areas of the course so many times I lost count. The two hours zoomed by and when it was time to go, he was walking a bit taller over his accomplishment. It was a great sight to see!
Disclosure: Thanks to the folks at the Squaw Valley Ropes Course for hosting my family. Although my family received complimentary passes to this activity, my reviews are always my own opinions and are not influenced by staff or its affiliates.